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State To Spend $6 Million Getting Broadband To Over 730 Unserved Maine Students

The Mills administration is spending nearly $6 million in federal funds to get high-speed broadband internet to more than 700 students in unserved areas of the state.

In a press release, the administration says that home internet access has become a more pressing need as many schools have been forced to adopt “hybrid” or remote learning models during the COVID-19 pandemic. State officials say the funds will go to seven internet providers to extend service lines and do upgrades.

More than 730 students in towns including Bath, Berwick, Buckfield, Lincolnville and Houlton will be served by the funds, but state officials say it’s likely that other nearby households will also benefit, and that the projects will “make service available to other locations on the newly built out networks.”

State officials estimate that about 85,000 households in the state don’t have reliable internet service.

“This public-private partnership will make a significant difference by bringing broadband to more kids in more rural communities so they can stay connected to their teachers and to one another. Still, there is more work to do. As long as any Maine child struggles to learn because of a lack of internet access, I will continue to push for expanded broadband across the state of Maine,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the administration provided more than 24,000 devices and Wi-Fi hotspots for students across the state.